Child care is a critical support for families, supporting working parents while their children are able to learn and be safe in a quality environment. In West Virginia, child care costs as much or more than college tuition and household family housing costs.
The American Families Plan outlines three major improvements to our child care system to better support families, working in conjunction with other infrastructure and jobs investments to ensure a more equitable recovery for all.
Quality, accessible child care is vital to the American workforce, and the support provided by the American Families Plan rightfully treats this industry like the necessity that it is. While the access to and quality of care would be increased, it also lifts the role of the child care workforce to that of a career. While some assistance has been offered through the American Rescue Plan, and more is included in the American Jobs Plan, Congress must act swiftly to pass the American Families Plan to fully support the economic recovery and future of the American workforce, as well as our nation’s children, families, and child care workers.
Learn more in Sarah’s full blog post.
This week, WVCBP criminal justice policy analyst Quenton King wrote an op-ed in support of simplifying the expungement process in West Virginia as a means of improving access to jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals. Excerpt below:
This past weekend marked the end of West Virginia’s participation in federally enhanced unemployment programs, enacted to address joblessness in the wake of the pandemic, and, now, thousands of struggling West Virginians are losing crucial supports regardless of whether good-paying jobs are available to them.
This short-sighted decision was made in an attempt to get displaced workers back into jobs, despite the data showing that people will rarely choose even generous unemployment benefits over stable employment.
While the move to withdraw from federal unemployment programs likely will not have the effect Gov. Jim Justice desires, one way to ensure a long-term, healthy recovery is to address the barriers and challenges that people face to finding work, rather than pulling the rug out from under them.
That includes making it easier for people who have historically been excluded from the economy to participate, particularly those with criminal records, who are more likely to be Black and low-income.
Expungement exists for people to clear or seal their past convictions, but it can be a difficult, confusing and costly process, often requiring an attorney to guide someone through the hurdles.
Simplifying expungement, combined with other reentry support and investments, will save taxpayer dollars while creating safer communities.
And it will have far broader effects on helping West Virginians find good-paying jobs than arbitrarily taking away supports for those who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
Read the full op-ed here.
Earlier this year, we released a report revealing the enormous costs of the drug addiction crisis in Kanawha County and how needs-based harm reduction can serve as an effective mitigation tool that saves both money and lives.
Since we published that report, it has become exceedingly more difficult for CDC-recommended grassroots harm reduction programs to operate, as both the state legislature and Charleston City Council have voted to criminalize their lifesaving work.
Join us this Saturday at 2pm at Magic Island, where hundreds of us will be shaping the letters “HIV SOS” for an aerial photo and to send the message that our community is paying attention and sides with science and care over stigma and fear.
Further details included in the Facebook event here. Please RSVP — we’d love to see you there!
A new article from Mountain State Spotlight featuring insight from WVCBP executive director Kelly Allen explores the unique opportunity for West Virginia provided by the American Rescue Plan, and how funds from the ARP differ from those included in the CARES Act. Excerpt below:
U.S. Congress passed the American Rescue Plan in March. The economic stimulus bill included not only money for local governments, but also billions of dollars in direct relief for West Virginia.
Governments have a lot more flexibility with American Rescue Plan money in comparison to the CARES Act money, which had to be used explicitly for costs incurred because of the pandemic. The new funds can be used for water and sewer projects, broadband and to backfill lost revenue…
Officials across the state are working to figure out spending priorities as American Rescue Plan money pours into the state. What they decide could have big implications for West Virginia and its future.
“I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime impact,” said Travis Blosser, executive director of the West Virginia Municipal League, an association of the state’s cities, towns and villages.
But there’s a lot of pressure for local governments to get it right.
“The opportunities here are enormous, but the opportunities here to get it wrong are enormous as well,” Blosser said.
Local governments in West Virginia are receiving a collective $679 million in American Rescue Plan money. Blosser said figuring out how to spend that money has been a collaborative effort.
“One thing that’s giving, I think, a lot of people confidence is that everyone seems to be unified on this issue of making sure this money gets spent in the best way possible to benefit our communities,” Blosser said.
Read the full article here.
The American Rescue Plan authorized significant but temporary changes to the Child Tax Credit. Here are four changes that might help you with the financial burden of raising a family:
1. The credit amount has been increased. The American Rescue Plan increased the amount of the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6, and $3,000 for other children under age 18.
2. The credit’s scope has been expanded. Children 17 years old and younger, as opposed to 16 years old and younger, will now be covered by the Child Tax Credit.
3. Credit amounts will be made through advance payments during 2021. Individuals eligible for a 2021 Child Tax Credit will receive advance payments of the individual’s credit, which the IRS and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service will make through periodic payments from July 1 to December 31, 2021. This change will allow struggling families to receive financial assistance now, rather than waiting until the 2022 tax filing season to receive the Child Tax Credit benefit.
4. The credit is now fully refundable. By making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable, low- income households will be entitled to receive the full credit benefit, as significantly expanded and increased by the American Rescue Plan.
If any of these circumstances apply to you, we’d love to hear how your family will be impacted! Please let us know by taking our survey here.
President Biden recently announced the American Families Plan (AFP) proposal, featuring major investments in K-12 education, child care, higher education, health care, and paid leave, as well as extended tax cuts for families and workers with children.
The AFP also includes revenue-raising proposals that would affect only very high-income taxpayers. And while the benefits of the AFP would be broadly shared, these tax increases would impact only .01 percent of West Virginia taxpayers — the smallest share in the nation — and work toward a tax system that raises more adequate revenue from those who have seen disproportionate income wealth gains in recent decades.
Join us in urging Senators Manchin and Capito to support the AFP and do their part to invest in West Virginia’s economic recovery and fund our future by sending them a letter here.
Find details of how the AFP benefits West Virginia children, workers, families, uninsured individuals, and veterans in our Twitter thread.
Learn more about how the AFP would serve as equitable tax reform in Sean’s full blog post.
Paid Leave Works for WV (PLWWV) is a broad coalition of stakeholders focused on advocating for a robust paid family and medical leave policy that ensures no one has to choose between their job and caring for themselves or a loved one.
The coalition is looking to collect stories from across the Mountain State. If you and your family have benefited from paid leave or have struggled due to lack of access to paid leave, please share your story and help us advocate to make this policy available for all West Virginians. We encourage you to share the form with relevant friends and family members, too!
In a recent video with PLWWV, WVCBP executive director Kelly Allen dispels the myth that the need for paid leave will go away once we emerge from the pandemic.
PLWWV has also begun a letter writing campaign to urge Senators Manchin and Capito to prioritize paid family and medical leave. You can send a letter here.
Counties and municipalities in West Virginia will be receiving $677 million in the coming months through the American Rescue Plan Act. What could this mean for advancing community food security across our state? Join the Food for All coalition’s partner, the WVU Food Justice Lab, as they present preliminary research about ARPA and ways to build local advocacy networks to advance the right to healthy food in the Mountain State.
The Food Justice Lab will be offering their second informational session on June 30 at 3pm. You can access the Zoom link to join here.
The webinar is free of charge. Please register in advance so that the presenters have an idea of what the audience for the session will look like. You can find registration here.
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